Rios Victim of Home Run Derby Curse?
In 2007 Alex Rios was having what is known to be a “break out” season. Before the All-Star break, Rios had launched 17 home runs into the seats of ballparks around the league. During the Derby, Rios pounded out 19 bombs, losing to Vladimir Guerrero in the final round by one home run. Since then Rios has seen his production drop off. Could it be from the dreaded “Home Run Derby Curse”?
What is the Home Run Derby Curse? It is the curse that some Home Run Derby participants become afflicted with after participating in the Home Run Derby. The Curse sees to it that Derby participants’ production falls off a cliff. Here are some selected statistics (because I like to cherrypick like that) of some past participants and their HR numbers pre HRD (Home Run Derby) and post HRD.
Pre HRD: 22 HR
Post HRD: 7 HR
Pre HRD: 18 HR
Post HRD: 6 HR
Pre HRD: 20 HR
Post HRD: 6 HR
Pre HRD: 17 HR
Post HRD: 7 HR
Pre HRD: 21 HR
Post HRD: 11 HR
As you can see, it is no wonder that some players choose to opt out of the HR Derby (Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez). The curse talk all started with Bobby Abreu who never regained his form after the Derby.
In 2005 Abreu entered the All-Star break with 18 home runs in 323 at-bats — a ratio of one ding dong for every 17.9 AB. In a year’s time following the event, he hit just 14 homers in 557 at-bats — a ratio of one every 39.8 AB.
At the time of the Derby, Abreu ranked 9th in the National League in home runs. Since that time, Abreu has been outhomered by more than one hundred different players. His six post-all-star-break home runs in 270 ABs represented 1 HR for every 45 ABs – the worst ever ratio by a Derby player post-Derby.
That was until Alex Rios came along. During his Derby season he was hitting one HR for every 17.9 AB, an impressive clip to say the least. Post Derby he hit one every 48.4AB – the worst ever.
Going into Saturday’s game, Rios is hitting one home run for every 41.2 AB this season – a slight improvement but still nowhere near the potential he has shown. Is it really a curse or is it something else? Former Derby participant and pretty boy Mike Piazza shares his thoughts:
“It’s not conducive to good hitting mechanics,” said Mike Piazza, a two-time Derby entrant early in his career. “It’s just not.”
In real life and real baseball, pulling the ball “should be more of a reaction than a plan,” Piazza said. But in Home Run Derby life, pulling the ball is not just the plan — “it’s the only plan,” Piazza laughed. “Bail and wail.”
If anyone can fix Rios’ hitting mechanics it is Cito and Gene Tenace. But you know what they say – chicks dig the long ball. And if the pictures below prove anything, Alex sure likes his chicks. If he spent less time mugging for the camera with David Beckham and trolling for dirties on the streets of Toronto with scrub ballplayers then maybe he will deserve to hit in the 3 hole for years to come.